Jason Marquis had arguably the worst outing by a Washington Nationals pitcher all year in his last start, allowing seven runs, six of them earned, in just 1 1/3 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. After the game, a 10-2 Nationals loss, Marquis was determined to put the start behind him.
“It was one of those days,” he said. “I’m obviously not happy about it. It’s one start in a long season. Turn the page and be ready next time out.”
Marquis was as good as his word Saturday night against the Colorado Rockies, keeping the Nationals in the game by allowing just two runs in six innings of work. But he was destined to be the tough-luck loser, as the Washington offense struggled to put runs on the board against a dominant Ubaldo Jimenez and fell 2-1 to Colorado.
“[Marquis] didn’t want to come out [after six innings], but I was proud of the job he did against a good lineup,” manager Davey Johnson. “He kept us in the ballgame. We had our chances and our bullpen did a good job, we just have to start scoring a few runs.”
The Nats have now lost three consecutive one-run games after winning three one-run games in a row earlier this week.
“We feel like we’re in every game,” Marquis said. “We give ourselves a chance every game, and we did that tonight. We fell a little short. We’ve been on the winning end of one-run games here lately, so we feel a little disappointed in that sense.”
After getting on the board with a solo home run by Todd Helton in the fourth, the Rockies seemed poised for a big fifth inning. Ryan Spilborghs led off with a single, and Mark Ellis followed with a double. But when Spilborghs tried to score on Ellis’ double, Laynce Nix made a strong throw to the cutoff man, Ian Desmond, and his relay to the plate retired the runner.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Desmond said. “We’ve really been playing well defensively. It’s something that we put an emphasis on in spring training, and it’s paying off now.”
The assist was Nix’s fourth of the year. He would make his fifth — and the 20th of his career — in the eighth inning when he made a diving catch on a Seth Smith line drive and doubled up Helton at second base to end the frame.
The Nationals did not have a hit until the fifth inning, as Jimenez set down the first 13 batters he faced before Michael Morse singled. In his eight innings of work, Jimenez allowed the one run on five hits and struck out eight. Washington’s lone run came in the sixth, after Desmond led off the inning with a triple and scored on a groundout by pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel.
Washington had two hits in each of the final two innings but could not get a hit with runners in scoring position. Ryan Zimmerman led off the ninth with a single, and after Nix struck out, he advanced to third on a base hit by Michael Morse. But Jayson Werth ended the Nationals’ threat by grounding into a double play. Werth was 0-for-3 with a walk on the day.
“Guys battled hard,” Johnson said. “We pitched, we played great defense. We had the right guys up, we just didn’t get it done. Tough luck.”
The series against the Rockies is the first the Nationals have lost at home since May 27-29 against the San Diego Padres.
“We’ve been playing really well at home, so it’s tough to have a series loss,” Danny Espinosa said. “But you have to get one win now. We have to salvage a win right now and stop the bleeding and get this game tomorrow and end [the first half] on a good note right now.”